Who should I live with?
Do you want to live on your own, in a house or flat-share, with your girlfriend or boyfriend, or with a friend? Weigh up the pros and cons before you decide.
Finding someone to live with is only the first step. You should also check whose name the tenancy will be in, and what type of tenancy you’ll have. These issues will have a big effect on your rights, especially if you ever fall out. Also, setting a few ground rules when you move in may save major arguments later on.
Living on your own
Living on your own offers you plenty of freedom and independence, but it can be lonely. Are you prepared to do everything for yourself, from cooking and cleaning to paying the bills, and to come home to an empty house?
It is generally accepted that living on your own is the most expensive way to live. Living with other people is a good way to share the costs. Council and housing association homes are usually more affordable, but you may have a long wait.
Living with a landlord or a member of her/his family
If you share with a landlord, you will have very limited rights. Remember: the person you pay your rent to is your landlord. So if you move into a mate’s place as a lodger or subtenant, according to the law, they will be your landlord.
Living with your landlord or a member of their family will have a big impact on how easily you can be evicted. You are likely to be an excluded occupier if:
- you share living space with your landlord, even if s/he’s your friend or partner. Kitchens, bathrooms and living rooms count as living space, but hallways and entrances normally don’t
- you live in the same building as the landlord (unless it’s a purpose-built block of flats) and share living space with a member of her/his family.
Excluded occupiers can be evicted more easily because they are only entitled to reasonable notice if the landlord wants them to leave. Reasonable notice could mean that they get only a short amount of time, and the warning may be verbal.
If you live in the same building as the landlord but don’t share any living space with her/him, you are probably an occupier with basic protection. Your rights are still limited but you are entitled to a court order if the landlord wants you to leave.
Shared flats and houses
Sharing a house or flat is usually cheaper than living on your own, and can be great fun. However, you may find that even people you really like can get on your nerves when you’re living together. Everyone will have to learn to compromise, to pay their own way and to do their share of the housework if you want things to work out.
If you live in a house or flat that contains more than one household (such as a bed and breakfast, or a house split into bedsits) it might be legally classed as a house in multiple occupation (or HMO). If this is the case, the landlord has extra legal responsibilities to ensure that the property is managed properly.
Moving in with your partner
Moving in with a partner is an exciting prospect, but it can put a strain on your relationship, especially if you haven’t been together very long.
It’s not always a good idea to move in together simply because it’s cheaper than renting separately. You may enjoy staying over at their place for a few nights, but if you’re there all the time, you could get sick of each other. Romance could soon dry up if you spend all your time nagging each other, so discuss it properly, agree some ground rules and make sure you’re ready for it. Use our ‘moving in together‘ checklist to help you.
If the worst happens, and you split up, get advice immediately. Your rights can vary a lot, depending on your circumstances and your status.
Moving in with friends
Moving in with friends can be a good solution. But you still need to be clear what the arrangements are. Your rights will be very different if you move into your mate’s place as a lodger or subtenant, than they will if you have joint or separate tenancies in a shared house or flat.
If you have to leave your current home and have nowhere else to go, staying on a mate’s sofa might be a good solution for a short time. But it can become problematic in the longer term. You may feel like you are getting in the way, and you will have very limited rights if they want you to leave. If you are in this situation, get advice immediately – you might be entitled to help from the council.